With the news that Netflix is finally cracking down on VPNs, the implication is that we Aussies will — eventually — be stuck with only the Australian region's content to watch. The vast majority of us only browse the correct region anyway, but it is possible (for the time being) to conceal your real location and watch US or UK Netflix. But how does each major region stack up in terms of the breadth and variety of content available — what are we going to be missing?
Netflix's imminent VPN crackdown was inevitable; it would have been impossible for the now-planet-spanning service to offer a flat-rate, all-you-can-watch movie and TV streaming service in 255 countries and not try to keep all those countries' media rights-holders and copyright owners happy by restricting potential geo-block dodgers' access to regions other than their own.
Here's the deal in Australia. We have a total of 2092 TV show and movie listings, a pretty decent showing considering our region launched just under a year ago with only 1120 titles. (New Zealand isn't far behind with 2043 titles, for what it's worth.) Here's how the 29 largest Netflix regions compare in diversity of content — according to Flixsearch.io's most up to date lists — in descending order:
USA: 5760 Canada: 3606 Argentina: 3579 Brazil: 3558 Mexico: 3550 Colombia: 3526 UK: 2990 Ireland: 2984 Switzerland: 2185 Denmark: 2146 Norway: 2119 Sweden: 2118 Finland: 2093 Australia: 2092 New Zealand: 2043 Belgium: 2037 Luxembourg: 1971 Netherlands: 1900 France: 1882 Germany: 1813 Austria: 1778 Japan: 1776 Spain: 1291 Italy: 1187 Poland: 783 Portugal: 767 India: 751 Russia: 734 South Korea: 664
So, as you can see, amongst the most populous and popular Netflix regions, we're around the middle in terms of the breadth of content we have available on our Netflix service. We do have some titles that are only available locally or on one or two other regions, though; movies like Escape From New York (only otherwise available on Netflix France), Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone (only otherwise available on Netflix NZ), Big Hero 6 (only otherwise available on Belgium and the Netherlands) and local productions like Jonah From Tonga (not available anywhere else).
Sure, the US has nearly three times as many movies and TV show series as Australia. Series like Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory aren't available in Australia, and neither are movies like Star Wars: A New Hope and Avengers: Age Of Ultron. And that sucks. But Netflix is trying to bring all its services into parity around the world, with the goal of eventually being a truly global service:
If all of our content were globally available, there wouldn’t be a reason for members to use proxies or “unblockers” to fool our systems into thinking they’re in a different country than they’re actually in. We are making progress in licensing content across the world and, as of last week, now offer the Netflix service in 190 countries, but we have a ways to go before we can offer people the same films and TV series everywhere.
Over time, we anticipate being able to do so. For now, given the historic practice of licensing content by geographic territories, the TV shows and movies we offer differ, to varying degrees, by territory. In the meantime, we will continue to respect and enforce content licensing by geographic location.
Some members use proxies or “unblockers” to access titles available outside their territory. To address this, we employ the same or similar measures other firms do. This technology continues to evolve and we are evolving with it. That means in coming weeks, those using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are. We are confident this change won’t impact members not using proxies.
We look forward to offering all of our content everywhere and to consumers being able to enjoy all of Netflix without using a proxy. That’s the goal we will keep pushing towards.
If you're thinking of cancelling your Netflix service just because you can only watch the region that you signed up to watch, that's up to you. But it seems pretty silly to me, because that's voting with your feet against the goal of one big global unified movie and TV streaming service. If you want it to happen, you gotta roll with the punches in the meantime.